I really enjoyed the Lemorton Réserve and so I am really looking forward to this much older iteration. Especially as in his wonderful book on Calvados (which, yet again, I recommend highly) Charles Neal has high praise for older Lemortons. Granted he is speaking of vintage releases from the 1970s but still. I am curious to see if this will be closer to its much younger sibling or to the 18 yo Bordelet-Beudin I reviewed last week. I quite liked that one but noted that it seemed in many ways to be closer to bourbon and wine cask-matured malt whisky than to younger Calvados (as always, note the caveat of my very limited Calvados exposure); it was also quite oak-driven. Will all that be even more true of this even older Calvados? Let’s see.
This was bottled for Astor Wines in New York and at $125 is about half the price of the 18 yo Bordelet-Beudin.
Lemorton 25 (40%; from my own bottle)
Nose: A richer version still of the Réserve—everything from the nose on that one is here (baked apple, cinnamon, brown sugar toffee) but it’s joined by leather, apricot jam, sweet floral notes (dried rose petals among them) mixed with incense, and some polished oak. As it sits tremendous notes of freshly pressed, unfiltered apple juice emerge as well. With even more time there’s rich, dried orange peel and some pipe tobacco.
Palate: As promised by the nose but with more oak and more of the cinnamon. Less floral here. Oddly, the texture seems a little thinner than that of the Réserve. But it is, on the whole, richer and fruitier (orange peel) and also woodier (though it’s not tannic). With time it gets more spicy/sweet still (a bit of clove joins the cinnamon).
Finish: Long. Quite balanced with the sweeter notes and the cinnamon and the oak fading out together.
Comments: As you might be able to tell, I found the nose to be very much in rich, sherried malt territory; the palate, however, was more in bourbon territory (think Four Roses) This is very much a whisky drinker’s Calvados. There’s obviously more oak here than in the Réserve but it’s not as tannic or drying as the Bordelet-Beudin (probably at least partly on account of the lower strength). I like it a lot but do wish it had been bottled at just a slightly higher strength (for reasons of texture).
I should add that if you’re looking for a more obviously apple-driven brandy, the younger and cheaper Réserve is for you. It’s not that there’s no apple here—there is a fair bit (especially on the nose)—but it’s not an apple brandy in the way that the younger one is (and yes, I know it’s odd to say that considering how much more pear than apple there is in all of Lemorton’s Calvados).
Rating: 88 points.